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17.4.

2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 92 E/189

On the other hand, the Commission has no competence in the area of fiscal measures aiming at an earlier
retrofitting of such devices on existing trucks. These measures indeed are to be considered by the Member
States themselves.

(1) OJ C 126 E, 28.5.2002.

(2003/C 92 E/248) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2598/02


by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission

(18 September 2002)

Subject: Repressive measures against the Hmong minority in the Saysomboune special zone in Laos

According to the Lao Human Rights Movement, in recent weeks the Lao authorities have carried out a
particularly violent campaign of repression against several thousand Lao of Hmong origin in the
Saysomboune special zone.

According to well-informed sources, the operations by the Vientiane authorities included the deployment
of large numbers of troops from the army of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, as well as the use of
helicopters, and were carried out in the region of Xiengkhouang, between the districts of Tha Tong and
Tha Vieng, and also the region of Phou Bia. The same sources report that the operations resulted in
hundreds of deaths. As yet unconfirmed reports suggest that the operations also involved the use of
chemical weapons to poison watercourses and destroy the crops of some 3 000 members of the Hmong
ethnic minority.

What information does the Commission have on this campaign by the authorities of the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic against members of the Hmong minority in Laos? Will it conduct a wide-ranging
inquiry into these operations as a matter of the utmost urgency? More generally, is the Commission aware
of other repressive measures against minorities in Laos and what steps will it take to persuade the
Vientiane authorities to end their policy of repression against minorities?

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(15 October 2002)

The Commission is aware of persistent reports on ‘security operations’, allegedly pursued on a regular basis
with the direct involvement of Vietnamese troops, in the special economic zone of Saysombourne in Laos.
For many years part of the region, in particular the area south of Xieng Khoang, has not been open to
traffic and foreigners are not allowed there for ‘security reasons’.

Ethnic minority groups in Laos often face a difficult situation. Many of them live in the impoverished
upland areas, particularly in the north of the country. School attendance is lower in ethnic minority areas
where access to schools is more difficult. In addition, there is no teaching in ethnic minority languages,
only in the Lao language. The biggest ethnic minority group, the Hmong, frequently encounters a lot of
mistrust from the administration, whereas other groups, like the Kamu, are more likely to accept the
current political environment.

The Laotian government has also undertaken a large programme of relocation of various ethnic groups,
among them the Hmong. Officially, relocation coupled with the Land Use Planning approach is undertaken
to protect the environment affected by slash and burn techniques and to ensure that ethnic groups gain
better access to services such as education and health. However, relocation is not easily accepted by the
population and the resettled communities have sometimes been faced with a lack of access to fertile land
and the inadequacy of basic social services, shelter, and job opportunities.
C 92 E/190 Official Journal of the European Union EN 17.4.2003

That said, the Honourable Member will doubtless recall that most Community funded projects in Laos are
located in areas of high densities of ethnic minorities. The Commission’s Country Strategy for Laos also
deliberately targets such groups as priority beneficiaries.

(2003/C 92 E/249) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2599/02


by Janelly Fourtou (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(18 September 2002)

Subject: Trademark law in Poland

The Polish Sejm (lower house of Parliament) is soon to decide on an amendment to the law on definitions
and designations of spirituous beverages, which would make the Polish brand of vodka Wyborowa (duly
registered for many years with the Polish Trademark Office on behalf of the producer company Pomos
Poznan, which is owned by the company Pernod Ricard SA) into a generic name. Were it to adopt this
amendment, the Sejm would be going against the government’s original bill and the recommendations of
the country’s Minister for European Integration, the Polish Trademark Office and the Polish Senate.
Apparently, the Commission’s services also endorse these recommendations.

If adopted, the amendment would deprive the brand of its distinctive character, as the exclusive rights it
enjoys would be lost, enabling anyone to produce spirits bearing the name Wyborowa. This would
undermine the protection enjoyed by the name Wyborowa, rather than improving it.

What representations will the Commission make to the Sejm in order to avert what would be a flagrant
breach of intellectual property rights in a country applying for accession to the European Union?

Answer given by Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission

(31 October 2002)

The Honourable Member draws attention to the possibility of the Polish parliament adopting a law
rendering the Polish brand of vodka Wyborova a generic name.

In Poland as in other candidate countries for accession into the EU, the Commission closely monitors the
gradual adaptation of national rules and regulations to the Community legislation. This adaptation is,
however, an enormous task and in many areas this involves overcoming the resistance of interest groups
and calling for major powers of persuasion.

In the case the Honourable Member refers to, the Polish authorities were duly informed about the risk that
adoption of a law containing provisions incompatible with the Community rules would entail serious
consequences. The Commission is therefore pleased to inform the Honourable Member that the Polish
parliament took the same position as the government and the Polish senate and the law finally adopted on
13 September 2002 is in compliance with Community law.

(2003/C 92 E/250) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2611/02


by Jan Mulder (ELDR) to the Commission

(18 September 2002)

Subject: Transport/marketing of unmarked cattle from nature reserves

The management of nature parks and other protected areas is becoming increasingly important in the
European Union. The recent debate in the Netherlands on the fate of Scottish Highland cattle in the
Veluwezoom national park made it clear that the transport and marketing of these unmarked animals
present problems.